New Mexico Car Accident Laws

New Mexico car insurance laws require those involved to file reports with the police and the Department of Transportation before claiming damages.
Written by Sarah Gray
Edited by Pat Roache
New Mexico
, drivers are required to inform law enforcement immediately following an auto accident and to file a report with the New Mexico Department of Transportation (DOT) within five days. Once these reports are submitted, drivers can claim damages by filing
car insurance
claims or personal injury lawsuits.
  • Car accident victims in New Mexico have a three-year time limit to file a personal injury lawsuit against another driver.
  • Drivers should first check themselves and their passengers for injuries, then document the accident with photographic evidence for filing purposes.
  • New Mexico is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning drivers are financially responsible for car accident damages proportional to their amount of fault.

What to do after a crash: New Mexico car accident reporting laws

The first thing to do
after a car accident
is make sure you and your passengers are safe. This may involve:
  • Moving your car over to the shoulder of the road if possible
  • Checking yourself, your passengers, and other vehicles for injuries, and
  • Calling 911 if anyone is hurt.
Once you’ve evaluated everyone’s safety, it’s time to start gathering information both about the crash and the other party involved:
  • Photographic evidence: Make liberal use of your phone to include pictures in your reports that will help determine who’s at fault in the accident.
  • Exchange information: Trade insurance information and contact information with the other drivers involved for your personal records and reports.
In New Mexico, you’ll need to report your accident to three separate entities:
  • The police
  • The NM DOT
  • Your insurance company 
Let’s look more closely at how and when to report to each of these offices.

When to report a New Mexico accident to the police

New Mexico law requires that you inform police “immediately, by the quickest means of communication possible” anytime you’re involved in an accident that results in at least one of the following:
  • Injury
  • Death
  • Property damage of at least $500
Here’s who to report the accident to:
  • If the accident occurs within a municipality: Report it to the local police.
  • If the accident takes place outside a municipality: Report it to the nearest county sheriff or office of the New Mexico State Police.
Officers responding to your accident will fill out the
New Mexico Uniform Crash Report
to file with the police department.

When to report an accident to the DOT

Any vehicle accident that requires a police report will also require a written report of the accident for the Motor Vehicle Department of the
New Mexico Department of Transportation
You should ensure this report contains as many details of the crash as possible, including:
  • The name, address, and insurance information of both parties
  • Your driver’s license number 
  • Your vehicle’s make, model, and VIN
  • A detailed description of the accident
  • Date, time, and location of the accident
This report must be submitted within five days of your accident.
MORE: Should I report a car accident to my insurance company?

Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: New Mexico’s insurance laws

New Mexico car insurance law
requires drivers to purchase car insurance to demonstrate their ability to cover damages if they cause an auto accident. Motorists in New Mexico are required to carry the following types and minimum amounts of
liability insurance
Despite these requirements, 21.8% of New Mexico drivers still get behind the wheel without adequate insurance coverage, making the state fourth in the nation for uninsured/underinsured motorists according to a 2019 study by the Insurance Information Institute (III). 
If you’re in a car crash caused by one of these drivers, you could have trouble collecting damage unless you hire a car accident lawyer. It’s all the more reason to add
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
to your policy to pay for damages even if the other driver has inadequate coverage.

Claiming damages after an accident: New Mexico’s personal injury laws

If you were the victim of an accident: You’ll be able to file a car accident claim through the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company to cover your medical bills and property damage.
You may need to pursue fair compensation through a personal injury claim if the at-fault party’s insurance doesn’t cover all of your expenses. In New Mexico, you have the right to sue for two types of damages associated with your crash:
  • Economic damages: Includes medical expenses, lost wages, lost employment or business opportunities, loss of use of property, and burial expenses.
  • Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental suffering, inconvenience, and humiliation.
What to do: Hire an experienced New Mexico car accident attorney to defend your personal injury lawsuit. 
Keep in mind: New Mexico’s statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits is set at three years for all types of claims. However, you must file a formal car accident injury claim within 90 days if you’re filing a suit claiming government negligence.

Exceptions to New Mexico’s personal injury laws

There are two instances in which a person’s window for filing a personal injury lawsuit may be extended past the three-year mark. According to
NM Stat § 37-1-10
  • Minors have one year following their 18th birthday to commence legal action if none was taken by their parents.
  • Persons who are incapacitated in a vehicle accident have one year following the termination of their incapacity to seek legal action. 

Who’s to blame: New Mexico’s pure comparative negligence law

New Mexico is one of only 12
pure comparative negligence states
in the U.S. Comparative negligence allows anyone involved in a car accident to collect damages in proportion to the amount of fault the other driver carries—unless they’re found to be 100% responsible. 
For example: You get into an accident where you were speeding and the other driver pulled out in front of you. Insurance adjusters find you to be 65% at fault and the other driver to be 35% at fault, so you will be responsible for 65% of the other driver’s damages while the other driver will be responsible for 35% of yours.
The bottom line: Depending on the circumstances, both you and the other drivers involved in a car accident case in New Mexico will likely be able to claim damages through the other’s insurance provider.
MORE: How different types of car accidents affect your insurance rates
was spot on. I’m young with one rear end on my record. Still, they dropped my monthly insurance rate from $468 to $250. This really saved me money.” —Jason M.
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